Name: Sarah Stewart
Title: Owner and Entrepreneur
Organization/Business: ARC Apparel
What do you do and how did you get here?
I started out retail buying for a yoga studio and for a period, I was involved with the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week. By then I realized I loved the industry and wanted to go further yet I was affected by the dark side of the clothing business. I became aware of the increasing damage done to our planet and the negative effects it had on exploited textile workers who slave for fast fashion.
I created ARC Apparel in January 2017 as an online only business selling responsible women’s fashion and accessories. We did a few popups in Kitsilano to test out the brand in a retail environment. Many say retail is dead and I believe it’s actually changing, not dying. People want something different and are tired of the big box, superficial chain store experience. This proved itself in the pop-ups where people said they still want to touch, feel and try on the clothing, in addition to buying online. After the pop-ups, we knew it was time to find the right location for a shop and I had been eying up Gastown for quite a while. We found this space on West Cordova and I was (and still am) so excited to be here with all the other awesome boutiques on this block.
What inspired the name and concept?
The inspiration comes from Joan of Arc. The brand is really about supporting women and inspiring them to build confidence and to encourage them to fearlessly go out and create real change in the world. Joan of Arc was such a strong warrior woman and I believe all modern day women are warriors who take on a lot – whether it’s in their careers, families, or relationships. We wanted to be part of inspiring women on their journey and they in turn, inspire us.
If you had 15 minutes only, in Gastown, how would you spend it?
Probably getting a coffee at one of my favourite cafés – Revolver or Timbertrain, then walking along the streets. I love popping into the shops to see what’s new. There’s so much to see in Gastown and the people watching is great.
What do you love about the neighbourhood?
The people. Getting to know our neighbours has been wonderful and there’s definitely a tight knit community here. I have enjoyed meeting the other business owners that work in the floors above the retail level. I also love the history in Gastown. When we first opened, someone in the building came to visit and told us the story of the brick used in the walls. We were told how the brick was imported from England in the late 19thcentury and that fact makes me love the place all the more. There aren’t many places in the city where one can find such character as you can in Gastown.
Can you recall a particularly happy moment or experience in Gastown?
A few weeks ago, a couple came in looking for something white to wear for their marriage ceremony. They were going to elope and take their vows in Stanley Park. We spent a few hours all hanging out together in the shop and I got to know them a bit. The day after they were married, they popped into the shop to say hello again. That was a nice moment.
What’s your definition of a good life?
Connecting with people, trying to achieve my personal and professional goals, finding peace in nature and enjoying the experience of travelling.